Review: The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. SmithThe Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith
Published by Poppy on April 15, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
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one-star

Lucy and Owen meet somewhere between the tenth and eleventh floors of a New York City apartment building, on an elevator rendered useless by a citywide blackout. After they're rescued, they spend a single night together, wandering the darkened streets and marveling at the rare appearance of stars above Manhattan. But once the power is restored, so is reality. Lucy soon moves to Edinburgh with her parents, while Owen heads out west with his father.

Lucy and Owen's relationship plays out across the globe as they stay in touch through postcards, occasional e-mails, and -- finally -- a reunion in the city where they first met.

A carefully charted map of a long-distance relationship, Jennifer E. Smith's new novel shows that the center of the world isn't necessarily a place. It can be a person, too.

You guys, I finally finished! I’m free! The Geography of You and Me has been my personal torture device for the last month. Over a month. Let’s just say that it’s entirely abnormal for a book to take me a whole month, but I would leave this and not want to read anymore. Should I have DNFed? Maybe so. However, I wanted to see if the book was really going where I thought it was going (spoiler: yes). Also, I just really wanted to like Jennifer E. Smith’s books. I mean, LOOK at that cover. It’s so fun! And I love fun, flirty contemporary novels. Despite that, Smith’s fiction is too cheesetastic and earnest for a banter-driven contemporary reader like me.

Before people freak out about my rating, don’t worry. If you loved it, I don’t think you’re an idiot. The Geography of You and Me is not an inherently terrible book. Smith’s writing is entirely not to my tastes, but she does have talent. There’s a reason most people have loved this book, and I’m in no way saying you guys are wrong in your reactions to the book. What I am saying is that The Geography of You and Me is NOT a Christina book and that the main characters enraged me over and over again and the cheesy writing grossed me out. I’ll be concluding with quotes to show what I mean about the writing.

The Geography of You and Me and my issues with it remind me heavily of my problems with another popular YA novel, Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares. In both cases, the couple has a really cool meetcute that forces them to do their wooing long distance (though obviously Lucy and Owen are much longer distance). Both books are helmed by pretentious characters who do not seem to have any connection outside of the cutesy meetcute, but are forced into a love scenario because that’s what needed to happen in the plot. The main issue I had with both is that I cannot feel any passion between the characters and, if you don’t buy into the romance, the whole thing is pointless, frustrating sentiment.

Lucy and Owen meet in the elevator of their building during a blackout. They converse and it helps them feel more comfortable in a panic-inducing situation. Even once they’re let out, they spend the night together and it is admittedly a cute little intro. This part I liked for the most part, though there were some questionable aspects, like this moment:

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Lucy, you see, is that stereotypical bookish heroine who loves to read. However, she only reads books that will make her feel superior, like Bartleby the Scrivener. For fun. I read classics for fun as a teen, but hell no to that. She also references Catcher in the Rye approximately fifty times, give or take 45, during the course of The Geography of You and Me. But, hey, she likes to read what she likes to read. What makes this even more annoying is that she’s testing this guy she just met to see if he will recognize her reference to a thing very few people of any age have read and then judging him for it. How nice of her, right?

That aside, I will grant that their first night is cute enough. They may not have a banter-filled connection, but I’m sure I would have been hugely charmed by the circumstances too. Teen me was much more romantic and I do get the initial attraction. What I struggle with is the fact that this encounter has them thinking about one another for a year afterwards, especially in light of everything that happens. They did not have the chemistry for a lasting connection. If you loved this, I’m sure you’re like “no, they totally do though,” but here’s why I think they don’t.

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As someone who doesn’t have a smartphone, I am somewhat sympathetic to his plight, but only to a point. The two are both moving away from NYC, so they swap email addresses. Lucy promptly emails him her address in Edinburgh. In fact, she emails him occasionally for months. He does not email her back. All Owen does is send postcards from the places he and his dad travel; the postcards to reference their first conversation, but they’re still a ridiculous means of communication. He doesn’t have an internet connection a lot of the time, but he DOES have a computer and there are places like Starbucks with free wifi. He definitely GETS the emails, but chooses not to email her back. I do not believe in his enduring affection if he can’t be fucking bothered to respond to an email. Believing this is what the whole book hinges upon.

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They meet for ONE night, kiss once, and then he doesn’t answer her emails, but I’m supposed to swallow cheesy bullshit like this and swoon?

ugh as if

Anyway, interspersed with this romantic squishiness, both Lucy and Owen meet and date other people. These other people seem much more interesting, and I was hoping The Geography of You and Me might be a novel of missed connections, but that is because I am a fool. Instead, they’re both dreaming for months on end of that one night and that one kiss, rather than moving on with their lives. Then they both lie to their significant others so they can meet up when Lucy travels to San Francisco, where he just happens to be, for a wedding.

These two characters, who I think I’m supposed to believe are sweet nerdy people, decide to meet up for Mexican. Lucy’s late because her flight was delayed and Owen eats a whole basket of the free chips before Lucy arrives. When she gets there, they both order waters. Then, they decide they don’t want to eat at this restaurant and leave, without even giving the waitress a tip for all the time he hogged the table without ordering a damn thing. THIS IS SO RUDE. All throughout the book, both Lucy and Owen do these sorts of insensitive things and I just cannot stand them, particularly because I think I’m supposed to like them and deem them nice.

On their date in San Fran, the two exhibit as much chemistry as Bella and Edward, staring at one another stone-faced. They have very little to talk about and end up getting into a fight, since they’re both contemplating cheating on someone and seriously resentful of the other for having someone else. The whole thing is infuriating and awful, especially since it’s then followed by melodramatic moping about how much they like each other and are meant to be.

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What you see above is the full content of ten chapters of The Geography of You and Me. Let’s just say I flashbacked to New Moon, when you flipped through several months with just chapter headings. At least then I wasn’t subjected to the moping. I mean, my god, both Lucy and Owen BREATHE, so OBVIOUSLY THEY ARE SOULMATES. I do think that the mirroring is cool to a point, but this passes it and also Lucy and Owen need to get the fuck over it.

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It takes EIGHT PERCENT of the book for Lucy to realize that postcards are an incredibly stupid way to get to know a boy you totally don’t actually know. And yet she reads Bartleby the Scrivener for fun. Right. Of course, she WAS emailing him and he ignored her, so there is that. Maybe she switched to postcards herself because she realized continuing to contact a boy who doesn’t respond is creepy? Then, though, there is a shocking twist wherein Owen learns how to type and actually sends her an email because he misses her so damn much. Then they exchange a bunch of emails that night and this happens:

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The Colonel Mustard and Bartleby nicknames by the way are as close as The Geography of You and Me ever gets to jokes/banter. That is it. Anyway, this bit especially pisses me off, because she’s asking why they haven’t traded emails before. He says they’re old-fashioned, which certainly HE is. And she says they’re idiots, which I’m a bit willing to grant. However, the REAL fucking reason they never did this is because HE DIDN’T WANT TO. He never exhibited the slightest interest in actually getting to know Lucy. Now the book’s straight up lying to me and I cannot even with that.

Oh, also, there’s a fun revelation at the end. On the first day, Owen accidentally left behind one of his dead mom’s cigarettes in her apartment. Turns out she KEPT IT FOR A YEAR. This is totally normal and not at all creepy. Then the book ends in a scene that could only be more cheesy and sentimental if they got engaged or something at the end. The ending could be worse, but any ending that’s trying to make me believe in any ending but these two realizing they have nothing in common and have wasted lots of money to see each other is not an ending I can believe.

So yeah. No me gusta. Readers who enjoy really sincere romances and are charmed by the scenario will no doubt love the book. Jaded people who enjoy bantery romance, aka people like me, are likely to be frustrated. At this point, I’m accepting that, much as I love the covers, Jennifer E. Smith’s books are just not for me, and I will try to resist the urge to read another one.

Favorite Quote:

“It is what it is…” he murmured, letting the words trail off at the end.

“I hate that expression,” Lucy said, a bit more force

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

gif i detest cheap sentiment

4 responses to “Review: The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith”

  1. oh, yikes. I love the type of relationships that start with being trapped in a small space together (so like, any elevator romances or there’s-a-storm-so-we’re-stuck-in-this-place romances, I want), but this just sounds like too much. And I like the *concept* of the mirroring, but in moderation because holy shit it looks like the author ran with that and never let go.

    “But at least we’re idiots together.” FUCK THAT SHIT. ew.
    Blythe Harris recently posted…Review: 17 First Kisses by Rachael AllenMy Profile

  2. Rachel says:

    This is the Christina I know and love hahaha. I obviously felt the COMPLETE opposite and loved every aspect of this book. You and I like very different kinds of romance, though. I can’t stand banter and think it’s stupid and annoying, but I loveeee cutesy/romantic stuff. I was actually laughing while reading your review because it’s been way too long since we disagreed on something.
    Rachel recently posted…New York, I am about to be in youMy Profile

  3. Katrina says:

    Uh oh! I thought this book looked good, but I have seen some pretty mixed reviews,erring towards the bad side. Also, love the Clueless GIF!

    Katrina @ Chased By My Imagination
    Katrina recently posted…Daily Shenanigans, 22/05/2014: Prop-Making.My Profile

  4. Imogen says:

    This review was hilarious! Thanks so much! I really, REALLY disliked The Statistical Probability, but I keep seeing The Geography of You & Me and because the cover is so pretty (and it isn’t written in present tense!) I keep CONSIDERING reading it. Thank you so much for this review, it has definitely helped me realise that Jennifer E Smith’s are certainly not for me either! I think this book would’ve made me really angry!
    I laughed so hard at the keeping of the dead mum’s cigarettes. What?? So weird. Especially when they’d only met once!!
    Thanks again for a fabulous review!

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